Picture of  James Robson

James Robson PhD Assistant Professor in Human Dimensions of Sustainability, School of Environment and Sustainability

Room 336, Kirk Hall

Research Area(s)

  • Environmental governance through collective action
  • Tracking and explaining change in commons regimes
  • The migration-environment-development nexus
  • Local approaches to biodiversity conservation

Prospective Students

I'm always keen to hear from prospective Master’s and PhD students interested in issues related to local forms of environmental governance (practice, knowledge, institutions), and committed to the principles of community engagement.

Academic Credentials

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resources and Environmental Management. University of Manitoba
  • Master of Arts in Environment, Development, and Policy (Distinction). University of Sussex
  • Bachelor of Science in Geography (Honours). University of Liverpool

Research Profile

My substantive area of expertise lies in interdisciplinary and applied environmental research, with special emphasis on the drivers, and impacts, of demographic, social, and environmental change as they affect rural and remote communities. It is research firmly couched in the ideals of community engagement and participation. My goal is to move knowledge into the arenas of practice and policy, where it can be of specific value in supporting partner communities.

My work takes place predominantly in Mexico, Latin America, and Canada (although I’m interested in the above themes no matter where they might unfold). I work in regions where a strong interdependency exists between biological and cultural diversity.

I’m particularly interested to learn about community responses to globalized change (the entanglement of global environmental change, economic and cultural globalization, colonial histories, neoliberal policies). This includes community efforts to adapt and innovate customary systems of governance and resource use.

Current Research

  • Strategies for Building Inclusivity in Mexican Forest Commons (SSHRC Insight Development Grant, PI) (2018-2020)
  • Ethnobiology Design and Food System Innovation in Bolivia and Canada (SSHRC Insight Grant, Co-Investigator) (2015-2020)
  • The Future of Forest Work and Communities (SSHRC Connection Grant, PI) (2017-2019)
A video of Future of Forest Work youth visioning workshop held in Madre de Dios, Peru in 2017.
A short video of Future of Forest Work youth visioning workshop held in the Philippines in 2018.
A short video of Future of Forest Work youth visioning workshop held in Bolivia in August 2017.

News and Media

Selected Publications


J.P. Robson, D. Klooster, and J. Hernández-Díaz. 2018. Communities Surviving Migration: Village Governance, Environment, and Cultural Survival in Indigenous Mexico. Abingdon, UK: Routledge/Earthscan. https://www.routledge.com/Communities-Surviving-Migration-Village-Governance-Environment-and-Cultural/Robson-Klooster-Hernandez-Diaz/p/book/9781138740020

Journal Articles

J.P. Robson and D. Klooster. 2018. Migration and a new landscape of forest use and conservation. Environmental Conservation. Available online at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892918000218 

J. Boakye-Danquah, M.G. Reed, J.P. Robson, and T. Sato. 2018. A problem of social fit? Assessing the role of bridging organizations in the recoupling of socio-ecological systems. Journal of Environmental Management.Volume 223 (October 1st, 2018): 338-347

J.P. Robson, D. Klooster, H. Worthen, and J. Hernandez-Diaz. 2018. Migration and agrarian transformations in Indigenous Mexico. Journal of Agrarian Change 18(2): 299-323

Boillat, F.M. Scarpa, J.P. Robson, H.R. Grau… and E.S. Brondizio, 2017. Land system science in Latin America: Challenges and perspectives. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 26-27: 37-46.

Courses Taught

  • ENVS 803 – Research in Environment & Sustainability 
  • ENVS 401 – Sustainability in Action